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The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship
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The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  173 ratings  ·  30 reviews
A veil of secrecy surrounds Mormon temple worship. While officially intended to preserve the sacredness of the experience, the silence leaves many Latter-day Saints mystified. What are the derivation and development of the holy endowment, and if these were known, would the experience be more meaningful? Modern parishioners lack context to interpret the arcane and syncretis ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published December 15th 2002 by Signature Books (first published December 1st 1994)
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Tom Doggett
Jan 17, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: have-at-home
A mixed bag. From the reviews on Amazon I had received the impression that it was not an anti-Mormon book, and I think I can agree but with a huge disclaimer: usually an anti-Mormon book attempts to display falsehoods and half-truths out of context in order to slander the LDS Church. By that definition this isn't an anti-Mormon book because it's purpose is not to slander the Church but rather to explore the history of the Mormon temple ordinances.

The problem, of course, comes from the fact that
Apr 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mormon-studies
If anyone is interested in reading anything about the history of Mormonism, I would say this book is a must-read (the book is filled with LDS lingo, so having a good understanding of Mormon society and LDS terminology will certainly help).

I was surprised at the calm, well-balanced approach the author gives. Normally, we expect to find people who are either stridently pro-Mormon or anti-Mormon on subjects like this. However, David Buerger's approach is very different. He barely makes any attempt
Oct 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
This was intermittently interesting and at times deadly dull (recopied lists of things or multiple-page long quotes - ugh!). But it was chock full of fascinating temple facts you may not know. Even the most casual temple goer is probably aware of the Masonic symbolism in the temple and the link between temple work and the Book of Abraham. But this book provides far more interesting facts that those.

For example, did you know that there have thus far been 86 million vicarious endowments performed,
Sep 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
A frank and matter-of-fact collection of history about the development of the Mormon temple practices and rituals -- from Kirtland through the present day.

I think the author does a good job of just presenting the information for readers to digest without a lot of opinion and conjecture. I find it FASCINATING! The author talks about influences of Joseph's time, connections to Masonry, and his interest in ancient mysteries (Book of Abraham). I'm only half done.

BTW, I am an active LDS member and te
Sep 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
I appreciated this book for offering some insight on a little discussed subject, the temple ceremony. Growing up in the LDS faith, I didn't ever really feel I understood what it was all about, even though I had served as a temple ordinance worker for two years. The book doesn't tell the most sacred parts of the ceremony, but it does give an incredible insight to the formation and changes of the ceremony. Sometimes I was shocked, sometimes I was just glad to know...
Mar 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mormon
This book is a great resource for anyone interested in the development of the temple ceremony and many changes in LDS temple worship since the early services and ceremonies in Kirtland and the introduction of the full endowment by Joseph Smith in Nauvoo. Very thorough and well documented.
Bryan Sebesta
Dec 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The best guide to the history of the temple endowment I've read, possibly because it's one of a VERY SMALL NUMBER of guides to the history of the temple endowment and, yes, the only one I've read. But really, it's very good. The Mormon temple liturgy was called by Yale professor Grant Hardy the Mormon's "fifth standard work," of fifth canonical work (alongside the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price"). But because it's the temple, it's rarely discussed for the ...more
Adam Moore
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good, could be better

A good outline of the developments in LDS temple worship, but I found it a little lacking in certain areas.
The discussion of the relationship between the temple and freemasonry could have been much deeper, though admittedly this was not the sole purpose of the book.
It is also a little dated (which I did not realize when purchased), and cites some policies that are not currently accurate.
I would recommend “The Development of LDS Temple Worship” in conjunction with this boo
Karen Sutton
I enjoyed this book for what it was: a pretty thorough and detailed history of the origins of temple practices and how they have changed over the years. It's a very matter-of-fact approach with a lot of dates and tables and if you geek out about stuff like that (like i do) then you'll enjoy it. The origins of the temple and their tie (or direct copy of) Masonic temple rituals is fascinating. At times it is quite dull and boring and at times the writing is great. So, it's a bit of a mixed bag but ...more
Mike Day
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Scholarly, informative, and what I would call "middle history" - not Fawn Brodie, but also not "True to the Faith" - in other words, this author works to present the historical facts and let the reader decide on their own. I need to read this book again.
Kathryn Pritchett
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read as prep for a presentation I was giving on the Mormon temple rituals. Very helpful.
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well researched, clear, scholarly presentation of how the Mormon temple ceremonies have evolved over the past 180 years. Respectful of the rites. Very interesting.
Jul 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Even in the relatively short span of years I've been a temple-attending adult, there have been changes to the temple ceremony. I've wondered, to what extent do the current rites, oaths, covenants, and other aspects of the ceremony reflect the endowment as it would have been experienced by early saints in Nauvoo? This scholarly work documents the evolution of the endowment experience and the dwindling significance of other temple ordinances, such as the Second Anointing (once taught to be an esse ...more
Aug 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Overall, this was an excellent primer on the development of modern Mormon temple ceremonies. It would be especially useful to those members of the church who acknowledge that church history is often a human history mingled with scripture, but who don't frequent more critical fora to get "hard" historical narratives. Concrete data are presented on how temple work has moved forward in the last seventy years or so, and a good balance between 19th and 20th century developments is achieved. Like I sa ...more
Jun 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Starting with the Kirtland Temple period, the author examines the development and changes in LDS Temple worship. In Kirtland, Priesthood holders participated in washing and anointing one another. Tubs of pure water were used. Bodies were perfumed with whiskey and cinnamon. Afterward, the individual was anointed by having oil poured over his head. The author then moves on to the endowment where the author wonders over how much Joseph Smith's involvement in Freemasonry contributed to the ritual. U ...more
Oct 06, 2010 rated it liked it
“Mysteries of Godliness” is a very interesting ethnography of LDS temples and temple ceremonies. Buerger does a great job documenting and citing his sources, most of which come directly from the LDS archives. I appreciated that for the most part, Buerger leaves his opinion out and leaves it up to the reader to interpret the historical facts presented. The book jacket reads "Until now, there has been no scholarly examination of the derivation and development of the temple endowment, which Buerger ...more
Nov 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Yvonne by: Marc
This was an interesting book. I didn't always agree with how the author commented on certain aspects, but for a history of the evolution of the LDS temple ceremony in a FAVORABLE light this should be your pick. There are literally hundreds of books trying to de-sanctify the sacred ceremonies that take place in the LDS temple, but this one just shows how the Lord really does build line upon line, precept upon precept through his servants.
I would not recommend this book to non-members or members
Jul 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: temple
Buerger has been idespensible as a researcher and author pertaining to the Mormon Temple Endowment. He provides access to documents and primary sources that when considered in the aggregate paint a very rich and vivid picture of Mormon ritual worship.

I also like the fact that although he is sensitive to the sacred nature of the Temple, he is rather aggressive in his approach, especially when dealing with the 2nd Anointing.

Well written. Pragmatic and simple in prose, it is a well written book.

A p
Richard Downey
May 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a pretty good introduction to the subject. It is well written and researched. There are a few picky things like getting the number of the presidents of the church wrong (Lorenzo Snow listed as 4th instead of fifth etc.) And some of his conclusions were a little problematic, but then opinions are always subject to interpretation. I thoroughly enjoyed it as it is one of my favorite subjects. Recommended.
Wm Jas Tychonievich
Jul 11, 2008 rated it liked it
I'm not sure who the intended audience for this book is, since there is very little overlap between the set of people who take the Mormon temple ritual seriously and the set of people who would be willing to read a book that discusses it frankly.
Apr 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: temple-stuff
A marvelously informative look at the history and development of the LDS temple endowment, from ancient times to today. I highly recommend this to those with solid foundations in LDS church history and the gospel.
James Davenport
Nov 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting collection of research regarding LDS temple ordinances. There are a few perceptions and conclusions of the author that I don't agree with, but it's a worthwhile book to read and refer to anyway.
Jul 07, 2007 rated it liked it
I actually have the hardcover, which for some reason isn't listed. This is a pretty good study of Latter-day Saint temple worship, though as a believer, I think he occasionally goes overboard while picking apart the sacred details, which Latter-day Saints covenant not to share outside the temple.
Stephen Cranney
Sep 26, 2012 rated it really liked it

A little out of date, but a straightforward, non-polemical description of the history of the temple ceremony.
Jun 25, 2009 rated it liked it
so so.
May 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2015
This was fairly interesting, but mostly just ok.
Dec 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lds-literature
good background information.
Garrett Tucker
Jul 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Interesting look into the LDS church endowment.
Apr 09, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: mormon-studies
It opened a deeper appreciation of the Mormon Temple to me, especially regarding its contemporary origins and evolution.
Mar 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Read things I'd never heard before;well documented with copious footnotes.
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